The FCC has recently been discussing net neutrality and it is immediately obvious that the organization doesn’t care the least bit about either consumers or about the free flow of information.
To recap what’s being discussed: the FCC is essentially proposing rules in support of internet “Fast lanes”. In essence, currently internet providers need to give all traffic equal footing in terms of prioritization – Facebook is served up with the same priority as MyTinySiteThatNoOneVisits.com.
The contention of ISPs and backbone providers is that some companies use a lot more bandwidth, and as such they should probably pay more to have their traffic delivered. They also want to allow companies to pay a premium to give their traffic priority, ensuring that their traffic is served up first before those who have elected not to pay.
The above is a gross oversimplification, but it should be enough to incite rage in anyone who values a free and unfettered exchange of information.
What ISPs are essentially looking to do is make some information more important than others. It starts with funding the traffic – companies with deeper pockets will see their pages served up faster than smaller companies with fewer resources – but what happens when subjectivity gets introduced into the process?
If we can prioritize traffic based upon the money paid to deliver it, who is to say that we can’t then turn around and restrict traffic to sites of a “questionable” nature?
Say, sites that focus on complaints against major ISPs – one of the most hated groups in America? How long until we’re restricting the speed of “dissident” websites, or extorting mom and pop stores in a Yelp.com-like fashion just to get their message out?
This is blatantly anti-consumer and completely opposite the ideals upon which the internet was founded, but what’s worse is that the FCC – an organization dedicated to regulating and promoting competition in wireless and wired communications – has latched on to the ISP’s baited hook like a starving fish spying an oddly-floating worm.
Their current document – a notice of proposed rulemaking – is the final step before they completely destroy the freedom of the internet. The head of the FCC, via repeated comments, has shown that he is willing to give lip service to net neutrality while taking actions in blatant opposition to the precepts of the free flow of information.
The current proposal all but states that “ISPs know best – we should let them do the deciding.”
I don’t know what’s worse, the blatant corruption of the free flow of information ideal or the sad doublespeak and condescension emerging from an organization supposedly focused on ensuring consumers get a fair shake, but I do know this: we need to fight this while we still can.
Contact your Senators, your representatives, anybody who may be able to help. Participate in the open discussion on the rules proposed by the FCC – tell them how deluded they are. I don’t expect it to amount to anything, but we have to try, right?